Sunday, April 30, 2006

He opened their minds

One thing I love about going to an honest-to-God actual Christian church is that I get to hear the bible every Sunday. Not just on special once-in-awhile days like at the UU church, but every darned Sunday. I love that.

Today, in Luke's gospel, this line jumped out at me:

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures

Jesus opened the minds of the disciples so that they could understand the scriptures. What is so cool about this line is that I have experienced it myself. Things that have been huge conundrums for me suddenly became clear. Theological issues which confounded me became totally understandable. This happened with a lot of things after I got baptized. But even now, as I am reading a psalm or a verse from the scriptures, I will feel the fog lift and see things with such clarity it sometimes moves me to tears. And I suspect Jesus is part of that clarity. I believe that the Holy Spirit whispers loving hints into my heart so I can understand what God is trying to say. I love that.

Bible study today was all about evangelizing. We read the line in Acts where God tells Paul not to be afraid to speak out. (Ironic, of course, considering Paul had every right to be terrified...) Speaking out has been hard for me. My image of myself has changed so much, but I still feel shy saying the word "Christian". It is odd, really, since I can't even remember not being a Christian. But for some reason I still choke a little on the word. I think it is because for 39 years, I wasn't one, so it is still very very new. But even when we don't say a word, God finds ways to use us for his good.

As you regulars know, my new church is in the process of merging with another, wonderful, church down the road. It is a very painful process for them, I think. Today we had a big pot-luck at their parish house to introduce the two congregations to one another. I know a couple of the folks there from my church shopping spree in the fall. But this morning I walked in to the kitchen of the soon-to-close church and almost bumped into one of the guests who was at my kitchen tools party last night. In fact, not just a guest, but the mother of the hostess. I was stunned. We, of course, had never mentioned our religious leanings. We had no idea we would soon be attending the same church. But there she was. And in that moment when we recognized each other, we both felt the power of the Holy Spirit in such a huge way that we just hugged one another and let our eyes fill right up. It turned out, her daughter (my hostess) and son in law and grandkids were all sitting out in the dining room. And I remembered all their names from the night before and went to sit with them. My son became very friendly with their daughter... so now I think she might even be looking forward to the move to Grace.

God is so good.

God is so good.

God, Beloved, my Beloved, you are so good.

You weave yourself into our lives, giving us little glimpses of your work in action. We wonder why things unfold as they do. I am learning that in trusting you, my life unfolds in such magical ways. I am so grateful. Let me be an instrument of your peace. Let me trust in you always.

Luke 24:36b-48

36bJesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate in their presence.

44Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you�that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things."

Friday, April 28, 2006

10 Simple pleasures

I got tagged while hanging out at Lutheranchik's, so here goes: 10 of my favorite simple pleasures.

1. My hammock. I have it strung between an old iron clothesline pole and a sadly decrepit silver maple. The tree is dying and I am at a complete loss as to how to manage the hammock when we finally have to cut it down. I love lying in the hammock and looking into the branches at all the birds.

2. Listening to my kids when they are supposed to be asleep, but are upstairs giggling instead. Even when I yell at them to settle down, there is a part of me that feels such joy at the fact that they love each other so much.

3. This is a new one: holding Theo in my lap and petting him. He sits stock still and I can't tell if he actually likes it, but since he doesn't try to escape, I am assuming he doesn't mind too much. Maybe he is just indulging me, but I'll take it.

4. Homemade chocolate chip cookies.

5. Walking on a beach in the off-season. Not frigid cold, but cool and most important, empty. I LOVE beaches in the early spring or fall when there are no crowds. I love the smell of the salt in the air. The feel of the breeze. The sound of the waves and gulls. The feeling of being small.

6. Sitting in an empty church. Sometimes I have this urge to just go up to the sanctuary and lie, face down, in front of the alter. If I am really alone, I will lie down in the pew and just look up at the ceiling.

7. Having coffee with a friend. This is one of those very basic pleasures which happen so rarely in my life.

8. Lying in bed on weekend morning. Before kids, Nguyen and I would sometimes spend a whole day in bed, catching up on sleep, reading a paper, drinking coffee. I miss that! Since kids, we have never been able to do that.

9. Taking communion.

10. Homemade white bread slathered with butter and strawberry jam.

Tag! Your turn!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bunnies and other issues.

1 bag of sweet timothy hay: $4.50
1 bag of rabbit pellets: $8.00
30 feet of vinyl tubing to bunny proof our electrical cords $12.00

A rabbit that has the run of the house: priceless

We aren't there yet. He is still a very naughty adolescent bunny, but we are gearing him up for house rabbit status. So far he is using his litter box successfully. I had one major mishap with him this morning while I was working. I wasn't paying attention til I heard a big thump. When I looked up, I saw that Theo had eaten half the spine of a very expensive book. (1st edition of 'The Silence of Heaven...' OUCH. Clearly I have to find a new home for my books!)

But we are really enjoying the little guy. He is sweet.

In other news: My parents came from Newfoundland to spend a month in RI. They are renting a beach house about a 1/2 hour away. I am looking forward to hanging out with them there. They have a new dog, so it wouldn't have worked if they stayed with us. Plus, frankly, it drives them crazy to be in the midst of our household. And it drives me crazy that even when they are staying with us, we never see them because they always have so much scheduled. This arrangement will probably work much better.

I get depressed every time they come down, though. I always feel like we just suck at long distance relationships. None of us are the type to chat on the phone much. And we haven't figured out how to manage the time we are together very well. When they are here or we are there, the distance between us becomes so much more real. Last summer, we went to visit them and by the end of the week I was pretty freaked out. Being a guest in someone's house is really hard... especially with a couple of little kids. And the realization that that is basically the only option started to sink in. I got really sad that they live so far away. Getting stranded in the airport in St. Johns didn't help matters much. We got fogged in and had to spend half a night in a motel and then get up at 3 am in order to make the next plane out. I couldn't reach my husband, who was in Vietnam. I couldn't reach my parents. My phone card didn't seem to be working. And my cell phone doesn't have service in NL.

I don't know how people do this business of living a gazillion miles from their families. If you have a clue... let me know.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Grey Sunday

I don't know if my knee is acting up because of the weather, or because I forgot to take the anti-inflammatories for a couple of days, but whatever the reason, I am limping around again.

This knee thing has been humbling and eye opening. First, I have gained weight lately, and I am pretty sure it is lack of activity. I have never been a huge exercise fan, but I know that the last couple have months I have been much more sedentary than usual. My most excellent Northern European metabolism seeks every opportunity to pad up for some feared future starvation, so I have probably gained about 15 lbs or so. (Which means I am way more that 15 lbs over weight!)

I have been humbled by that.

I have also been humbled by the fact that I can never predict from day to day what I am going to feel like. Some days I feel very energetic and can do things like take a walk to my son's school. Other days, like yesterday, I feel like crawling into bed and sleeping for the whole afternoon. Part of me worries when I have too much scheduled because I can't be sure how my body will react. This is new and very very strange.

My parents are coming from Newfoundland for a visit. They are going to stay with us on Tuesday night. Truly, it is about all I can do to clean out their guest room for them, never mind planning a dinner.

But on some level, I am ok with all of this. With the extra weight and the unpredictability of my body. I am ok with the fear, even. In all things, I am trying to allow it to bring me closer to God somehow. Just let my life flow as it will... unfolding in God's way, not mine.

I have a friend who was praying to God for a week off from her hectic life. Over the weekend, she passed out in the middle of Times Square from heat exhaustion and ended up breaking her leg in the fall. She is going to get her week off... although it wasn't exactly the way she imagined. I told her next time she ought to book a cruise! LOL. But the fact that she saw the connection between her prayer and her accident really inspires me. She has let God take charge of her life in such a deep way.

Beloved, let me be open to your work in my life.

Let me rest in you when I am weary. Let me do your will in all things, at all times.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Theo is on the move...

Last night I came home from a kitchen tools party pretty late. (It was a friend, so I stayed around after to chat...)

And what do I find? My husband sitting in front of a roaring fire, beer in hand, with a rabbit running around the living room. Well, not running exactly. More like hopping.

What is funny about this is that Nguyen was mister cool when it came to the rabbit. "no, I am not excited we are getting a rabbit." he said the day we were heading off to pick one out.

As I suspected, he turned to mush the moment he actually met the little guy.

Theo's exploration of the living room was quite an accomplishment too. For the previous couple of days he wouldn't come out of his cage at all, preferring, I think, to scope the situation from the safety of his little home.

We seriously need to bunny proof at this point. The first thing he did was hop over to my laptop electrical cord and take a few nibbles.

He even took a few flying leaps through the air, which Nguyen had never seen before. It was hilarious.

And one HUGE accomplishment is that he is using his litter box very successfully. Good Boy Theo!

Friday, April 21, 2006

RevGal Friday Five: Favorites

On this particular day, these are my favorites:

1) fruit- Stewed rhubarb

2) song- I know my redeemer liveth (Handel's Messiah)

3) beverage- Senseo medium roast in my pink and white polka dot cup. With cream and equal.

4) shoes- LOVE my sketchers bike shoes. (Not that I ever bike...)

5) flower- Siberian Iris

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Welcome home, Theo

Today my sons and I went to rabbit rescue organization to adopt a bunny. Older son has been obsessed with rabbits for months. He has a bunny dance. He reads bunny books. (Did you know there is a series about a rabbit vampire called "Bunnicula"? He sucks the life out of vegetables!) So I agreed that we would get a rabbit after Easter.

When I was a kid, rabbits were meat animals.

But when I was a young adult, my mother and her boyfriend adopted a rabbit when they lived in a tiny apartment in NYC. The rabbit was a Flemmish Giant named, uh, Bunny. She had strawberry blond fur and was very very funny. One of our favorite NYC stories was when we ordered a pizza to be delivered. The guy that delivered it was a very cool/tough looking young man who took one look at the rabbit and just melted into goo. He sat on the floor (after handing the pizza to my mom) and the rabbit was all over him. It turned out that the man was a recent immigrant from Haiti and used to have rabbits at home. And boy did he miss them! We noticed tears in his eyes. New York can be such a difficult experience for new immigrants...

Bunny lived with my parents for about 5 years. Eventually, though, my sort-of-step-father developed allergies to her, so she lived out her dotage with a friend who had a dog and a cat. The three of them were great friends til the end.

Today, we drove 45 minutes to the Sweet Binks rabbit shelter and spent an hour getting to know the bunnies. Pam, the owner, assessed the kids and suggested rabbits based on their personalities. We were very interested in a Flemmish Dutch mix called Fiona, but she was having none of it. Little Theo, though, seemed to warm up to the boys just fine. He is a very small guy... an adolescent, and he is sort of a reddish color too. So far he hasn't ventured out of the animal carrier we brought him home in, but he seems pretty relaxed in there, so I think he'll fit right in.

Here's the link to Sweet Binks.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Jesus Freak

I can't remember life before.

I don't remember who I was. What I was. What I thought about.

Well, I sort of remember, but it is not like a memory. More like observing someone else's life. Like watching someone through a mist. It wasn't really me, it seems. It was like pre-me. Proto me.

The real me is the one who exists in Jesus. The real me is the one I am excavating from my past self and discovering under all the layers.

To anyone who hasn't been there before, this whole thing might seem terrifying. My old friends may, in fact, be worried for me. They might just worry that the person they knew before evaporated, disappeared, disolved. But the truth is that the person they knew before was not the real me.

The real me is the one who woke up on the day that I died and was reborn in Jesus. September 10th, 2003 at 10:00 am.

My true birth day.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


It seems strange, but today was my first Easter service in a Christian church.

For the last couple of years, I attended the Triduum services at S. Stephens, but would return to my UU church on Easter Sunday. I would spend three days in a dark, smokey church listening to Gregorian chant and endless scripture readings and never get the light at the end. And while the Easter services at Bell Street were soulful and moving, it wasn't the same as sitting in a church full of believers who were just as eager as I was to celebrate the resurrection.

Today was an amazing experience.

During my first Holy Week, two years ago, I didn't feel a sense of the resurrection until the following monday. After a grueling week of personal loss and spiritual despair, I was stunned to wake up on Monday morning with a big smile on my face and a clear sense that Jesus was back, baby.

Last year, that didn't seem to happen for weeks. In fact, I really don't remember a specific time when I got that giddy "Jesus has risen from the dead" kind of feeling at all. If it came, it was very subtle.

This year, I started to get an inkling of it even on Good Friday. I had intended, for example, to go to the evening service at S. Stephens after attending the afternoon vigil at Grace. But as the afternoon wore on, I felt like it was more important to stay home with my children and color Easter eggs. That, to me, was a tiny glimpse of the resurrection. By Saturday night, it was clear. I could feel it in the church. I felt joy inching it's way along the walls of my soul, even as I sat in the darkness waiting for the new fire to be lit.

Today was a full-on love fest. We sang the Hallelujah chorus and giddy hymns about Jesus kicking death's ass. We giggled at all the fancy hats and kids in their Easter best. We marveled at the thin clouds hanging in the crystal clear blue sky. I welled up at the sound of the church bells peeling in downtown Providence.

After church, we went to Nguyen's sister's house for the annual Easter meat-rampage and ate Vietnamese beef noodle soup and chicken wings, barbequed pork ribs, and yes, curried venison. I watched the kids and marveled at how fast they are growing. Noticed that my Sister's in law are getting more gray hairs. That I am plumper than last year. That my brother-in-law and husband look more alike when they are both sound asleep on the sofa.

And felt to the very core of my being that Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah,

is risen today.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Great Vigil of Easter


We Christians are coming down the home stretch. Tonight was the Easter Vigil. What a different atmosphere! Even when we were sitting in darkness, there was almost a festival flavor in the church. It was very full. And there were 5 baptisms tonight, three of them with babies, so lots of kids and parents and relatives milling around. It is hard to be serious with a bunch of cooing infants all over the place.

Yesterday, at the Good Friday service, one of the Sunday school teachers invited me to sit with her. I (gracefully, I think) declined. I wanted to be alone and I didn't want to make small talk. Tonight, on the other hand, another young woman asked me to join her and I agreed. And yes, she chatted there in the dark until the service began. But it was different somehow. I told Nguyen that I want to grieve alone, but celebrate together. Actually, I want to grieve with others too... just not having to talk during it. I just don't want to talk.

This whole Holy Week has been such a different experience than when I went to an Anglo Catholic church. This is reverent, indeed. But it feels much less formal. More natural, even as it sticks to the liturgy. I can't explain it.

As I am kind of a 'smells and bells' hound, I was wondering if the church services would have the same effect on me. Thursday and Friday certainly did. But tonight was very different. It really felt exhuberant. It was, without a doubt, a celebration. I liked it.


Christ is risen.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday

Yup. I sat at Grace church for 3 hours today. We had a guest preacher... a Bishop from Boston named Steven Charleston who was leading the meditations on Christ's last words. This was new to me, since last year at S. Stephen's we did the stations of the cross. And I have to say, this guy was fantastic. He is, apparently, a former Baptist and his preaching was definately evangelical. At one point he even joked about an Episcopal Bishop making an altar call and I tell you right now, I was ready to stand up and be amoung those coming forward.

And yes, I cried for about 3 hours straight.

Here's the thing. It wasn't his preaching that brought me to tears. No. It wasn't the hymns or the beautiful choir or the collects. No.

It was the fact that I know, deep in my soul, deep in my core, I know that I am saved. And the miracle of that is just beyond comprehension. I know, brothers and sisters, that I who was dead, am alive. I who was in grief and despair, am in joy. I know that NOTHING can ever change that. My tears then, aren't just from grief, but joy. My tears are of gratitude. Humilty. Awe.

I was deeply appreciative that the lady sitting behind me had a wad of tissues to share.

Then, at the end of the service, after the last hymn, we all stood (or knelt) in silence as the church bells tolled.

100 people, in silence.

St. John of the Cross and other matters....

Grace was so, well, full of grace last night. It was truly one of the most beautiful services I have ever been to. The church was dimly lit. There were dozens of candles illuminating the altar of repose and the choir. The priests started in white robes with red stoles... and changed to black albs while stripping the altar.

I was teary through the whole thing. For me, nothing can choke me up more powerfully than seeing the cross shrouded in black. For some reason, that single thing just opens my heart. I cry for grief and joy. For sorrow and thanksgiving. I really do need to bring some tissues next time. I dripped everywhere.

Last night I brought a friend who has been struggling somewhat with her own Christian path. Unlike me, she was raised as a Christian, but wandered away at some point. I believe Jesus is calling to her now, and I think she is responding to that call. But I know how hard that leap can be, so I pray for her constantly to be unafraid, to trust in God, who can heal all wounds. She was weeping through the service with me, so we must have been quite a funny sight... a couple of redheads leaking away in the pews.

The sermon was amazing. Our associate priest, Hope, gave the homily and it was really powerful. She talked about 'last suppers' in her own life... and how there is always the temptation to try and cram into them all the last minute things you wish you had said before. I love when I think of Jesus the man, feeling like a parent who is about to send his children off into the world. Knowing it is going to be hard and dangerous and scary for them. Giving them the best advice: Love one another. Don't squabble. Be servants to the world. Those simple, yet profoundly difficult instructions.

At the altar, I just let the tears flow freely as I took the bread and the wine into my body. I really am a goofus, I know.

Then, during the vigil, it turned out that I was not alone after all. There were three of us sitting there for a couple of hours. It was interesting to realize that all my centering prayer practice allowed me to sit quietly for that long and not fidget much. In the end, when the pew started to feel really hard, I began to do the rosary on my fingers. The five sorrowful mysteries. (Which I still don't really know.) By the time I got to the second one it was 10 pm and I went up to the altar and knelt down and asked Jesus to forgive me for leaving.

So, if you are still with me, you might be wondering where John of the Cross fits in. Well, to make a very long post even more interminable, when I came home, I draped my crosses in black and went to bed. Since I have been reading the bible all these weeks, I have had a copy of the Dark Night of the Soul sitting on my bedside table, untouched. I decided to crack it open for a few minutes before falling asleep.

And St. John gave me a whack upside the head.

All my crying and carrying on in the service,

All my "holy spirit" experiences,

All of it is just because I am pathetically inexperienced as a Christian. And don't let that stuff make you puff up with spiritual pride, either, sister, or you will get a major whack, not just from me... but from the big guy.

It is hard to tell where spiritual pride ends and profound gratitude begins. It is hard to distinguish secret self-satisfaction from unbridled joy. I know there is a temptation there for me.

On the other hand...

Meditation #104 from The Book of the Lover and the Beloved, by Ramon Lull:

Every day, sighs and tears are messengers between the Lover and the Beloved, so that between them there may be solace, companionship, friendship and goodwill.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

It is finished

A thunder storm is approaching, so I don't want to stay online for long. But I wanted to share that I finally finished Revelations. Thus, I have now read the bible cover to cover.

Careening towards Easter

I really tried. Really.

I made sure I cleared my schedule. Avoided booking anything significant this week. I crossed out all the days on my calendar so I wouldn't be running around like a crazy woman during Holy Week. And, like Kudzu, things creeped in. I have shows to submit. Customer Service calls to make. Tons of stuff for the kids' school to do. One thing after another, piling up in the corners of my head... keeping me from doing what I want to do, which is nothing. Which is sitting in the presence of the Beloved and soaking up all that love.

After I got baptized, I spent several weeks feeling like this... like life was intruding and I just wanted to get away and be alone with God and not be distracted by all the other stuff. (Never mind that that other stuff was mostly my family. I know, I know.)

It is times like this when I really do feel like I am kicking against the goads. And it seems to happen at least at some point every Lent. I felt like this last year. And the year before too.

I told Nguyen that maybe next year I will go on some kind of retreat for part of Holy Week. I don't know if any Christian places do such a thing, (it is a busy time of year to be in the religion business) but even if I end up at a Zen center or something, at least I can be alone with the Beloved.

It is a warm, grey, day. I am embarking on the journey towards Easter feeling harried and frazzled, with a To-Do list about a mile long.

But tonight, I eat a meal with him and sit in the garden with him and tomorrow I sit in a pew for the afternoon and meditate on his death. And Saturday the light begins to emerge from the darkness.

I bought shroud fabric yesterday. Black gauze for tomorrow and white gauze for Saturday, and tore it into squares to drape my crosses with...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I signed up for the Maundy Thursday vigil at Grace. I didn't specify a time. I just wrote my name and phone number and invited the man coordinating it to assign a time to me.

At this point, apparently, I am the only volunteer.

I am pretty sure that the roster will fill up on Thursday night. Perhaps there will be a group of us sitting in Gethsemane together.

I admit that if I am alone, I have some fear about being in downtown Providence, alone at night in a huge old church. I caught a taste of anxiety when I thought about walking back to my car in the off-the-beaten-path parking lot behind the church. Or about sitting in the cavernous emptyness in the dark.

I tried to talk myself out of the fear. Tried to think I should ask for someone to watch with me. Tried to calm myself by reminding myself that God will be with me.

Then I remembered the disciples. They, too, must have been terrified. They slept from worry, it says in the bible. At least part of that worry must have been for their own skins.

Last year, I was reading the Passion of Mark in the week or so before Holy Week and just fell apart when I got to Gethsemane. I was shattered at the thought that he faced that trial alone. I was crushed to realize how much of my life I have spent sleeping or running away from him. I cried and cried about it. At S. Stephens on Maundy Thursday, I sat in the Alter of Repose for a long time. I didn't want to leave. I had not signed up, but just went after the service and sat in the darkness with a few others. Sat in the emptyness. Sat in the denial and the fear and the abandonment. Sat in the betrayal. And then, got up and walked away.

I don't know what is going to happen on Thursday, but I know this:

I will be with him.

And then I will leave.

Forgive me, Jeshua.

I love you.

Image of Gethsemane by Gwen Raverat

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Palm Sunday

Just sat in the pew weeping.

I was wondering if Holy Week was going to be as much of an emotional roller coaster as it was the first two years.

I think

the answer is


Friday, April 07, 2006

God pokes me in the ass...

So, in my very recent past I was teaching private natural childbirth classes to mostly middle class couples who paid dearly for them. I did it for almost 8 years until finally, last fall, decided to hang up the plastic pelvis and move on to other things. (Kitchen Gadgets! LOL)

Well, this morning, in the shower, God poked me.

(God does that pretty regularly, bless him...)

I suddenly had this flash that I should teach childbirth classes to young women who have decided to have their baby instead of having an abortion. Soap dripping in my eyes, I realized that I am uniquely qualified to offer my time on a volunteer basis. I could even train labor assistants to help women who have no other support out there.

One thing I have learned with these divine pokings is that they do not keep well. I have to act on them right away or they get stashed under a thousand other things in my day. So I immediately called a Pentacostal friend who is involved with some kind of prenatal clinic for unwed mothers. (That is so quaint a term these days, isn't it?)

I laughingly said that God "Laid a burden on my heart" (which is how charismatics describe it when the Holy Spirit pokes them...) and told her what had transpired in the shower.

She could hardly contain herself. Only a few weeks before, she had started volunteering for this clinic right down the street from me who specialized in helping and counciling young women who wanted to have their babies. She gave me the name and phone number of the director.

And I called. The director told me that this very weekend, there was a young woman in labor who had no support. A couple volunteers from the clinic were going to go to the hospital with her. I told the director that I can offer childbirth classes to the young women AND I can train the support people too!

Now, don't get me wrong, I am already totally stretched thin at this point. I have my new business and family stuff and a kid in kindergarten and another in third grade. Plus I am on the board of directors for an after-school arts program for at-risk kids. And I am mostly just a lazy person who would rather nap than anything. So, after I hung up with her, I explained to God that I am happy to be of service, but I need him to meet me halfway. God, I said, if you want me to do this, I need you to give me the strength and energy and the time to do it. I am going to need your help here, Big Guy. I can't do this alone.

I am somehow pretty sure I won't have to.

So. How has God poked YOU lately?

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Those of you who have been reading my blog know that in January I embarked on a mission to read the entire bible, cover to cover, in 90 days. I don't know what possessed me to undertake such a thing, (Holy Spirit, perhaps?) but I can tell you that so far, it is one of the best things I have ever done. Seriously. The up side is that you get a real sense of the length and breadth of the relationship between the God of Abraham and mankind, in all it's various manifestations. I definately struggled with the Hebrew scriptures. There were pages and pages on how to build a temple. Hundreds of verses on why the City of Jerusalem is a whore. Lots of geneological lists of who was begat by whom. But every once in awhile, amazing and wonderful stories. Stories of love and compassion. Of a faithful, if cranky, God. And in the end, a real sense of what the ministry of Jesus was about. By the time I got to the Christian scriptures, believe me, I was ready!

So, last night I read the Letter of Paul to the Romans in a single sitting. (The nature of this kind of reading plan is to blaze through at a relentless pace. Which is, incidentally, the down side...) Romans is one of the most dense pieces of writing I have encountered so far. It is just PACKED with stuff. I am planning to join a Bible Study Fellowship this fall and we will be spending an entire year studying Romans. What a contrast! But after reading it again last night, I can absolutely understand why a whole year would be valuable. Even a casual reader could fruitfully take this letter sentence by sentence. I love Paul's style in this letter. Since it is the first of his letters in the bible, it is the first time we encounter him in his own words. He askes a lot of questions and then answers them.

"Does this mean we should go on sinning to increase our grace? Not at all! "

I know that in recent years, Paul has sometimes gotten a bad wrap by liberal Jesus scholars. I have heard him called all kinds of things, including a snake oil salesman. I completely disagree. Yes, I think he was astute. (The way he takes advantage of the tension between the Jews and the Gentiles was pretty smart, if you ask me! It was a little like using a rivalry between soccer teams to improve the performance of both.) But I find his commitment and his faith to be incredibly moving. And though it will take me some time to truly understand his theology, there is no question in my mind that as a Christian, I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.

On to I Corinthians...

Beloved, in all places and at all times you speak to us through your servants. Grant us the ears to hear and the eyes to see. Let me be open, my Lord. Let my heart and mind be open to you.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A mini epiphany

I was having lunch with Fr. P yesterday and was talking about reading the Catachism of the Catholic Church and my bible study the other day and hearing my former minister on an AM Christian radio station trying to explain that he didn't take the bible literally, but definately took it seriously....

(and that is exactly how my conversations with Fr. P tend to go. Gushes of semi-connected thoughts that may or may not have have any real connection once they are out of my mouth. He is a patient man.)

Anyway, to break this down into smaller bites:

The CCC stresses that the ultimate authority for interpreting the revelation of Jesus Christ is the Magistaerium. (spell check, please!)

The Evangelicals on the AM radio station who were intereviewing my former UU minister stressed that the ultimate authority is the Bible itself.

My priest at Grace, at the bible study on Sunday, mentioned that in the Episcopal tradition, religious authority is gleaned from 4 sources: The bible, tradition (which I think of as sort of the equivalent to the Magistaerium), reason (those pesky intellectual Anglicans...) and experience. Yes. Experience.

Like, my experience of God is of pure love and joy and I can't really bring myself to believe that he personally ordered the slaughter of every man, woman, child and infant in the pagan towns of Judah.

So, by now, if you are still reading this, you are wondering what the heck the mini epiphany might be.

It is that I am thinking that I might actually be an Anglican. For real. Not by default. Not a Catholic wanna be. (Although that might still be true at some point!) But, right now, right here, I am an Episcopalian and, dare I say it, proud of it.